DENAVOLO (Emilia-Romagna, Italy)

Giulio Armani is a quiet, introspective theorist and scholar, well-appointed in his sharp, Italian dress. Behind his smile, though, you can see his mind is not as reserved: always asking, testing, proving. This exuberance comes through in the highly-energetic yet contemplative wines Giulio crafts at Denavolo, named for the mountain on which it lies. On this stunning slope in Emilia-Romagna, he retreats from his red wine labors in La Stoppa, where he has been making wine since he was a boy, to answer more questions his mind cannot let pass: Why has the world assumed wines from red and white grapes are made differently? Perhaps this is a fashion of the old days that has clung tightly in the current era and is now stifling the potential of great white wine? Can you hear his mind working? It is a joy to hear and taste the results. To reach the potential, Giulio is still experimenting: oak versus tank, parcel selection versus whole vineyard, long versus short maceration, but certain things remain a constant. Dedication to harmony with nature, natural fermentations and processes, skin contact and no filtering are all carved into the rock of his principles for the foundation of the best wine he can make. The Denavolo brand began in 2005 with the first release in 2006, and comes from five hectares of vines planted in the Colli Piacentini area. Denavolo’s three hectares of steep, climbing, sandy, limestone-rich soils at 350-500 meters above sea level have an answer that awaits the right moment to be revealed. It is the quiet Giulio that will get them to speak, even if it takes another childhood to muse on. In the meantime, we will enjoy the questions.

Vino Bianco, Catavela
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Catavela is a blend of two wines: one of which is a wine that comes from the same vines as Giulio’s Dinavolino: Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, Marsanne, Ortugo, and an unidentified varietal. These grapes are left on their skins for about four months. The second wine is from two parcels which were planted in 2006: ‘Cassinera’ and ‘Campo Rotonde.’ ‘Cassinera’ is one hectare of Malvasia di Candia Aromatica and Marsanne, while ‘Campo Rotonde’ is two hectares planted with Ortugo, Trebbiano, Malvasia, Marsanne, as well as Santa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscat, as required by the DOC regulations. Grapes from these parcels undergo a shorter maceration period of about ten days, as a longer maceration would only add overly-aggressive tannins. The soil here is rich in limestone with very little clay. Its aeration causes a later vegetation and maturation, while herbs planted between the rows of vines provide a healthy microsystem. The finished, blended product is a fresher, younger, easy-drinking wine, with not a drop of sulfur added.

Vino da Tavola, ‘Dinavolino’
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25% Malavasia di Candia Aromatica, 25% Marsanne, 25% Ortugo, 25% yet-unknown varietal; A blend from 28-year old vines, this wine comes only from those at the bottom of the slope. Grapes are hand-picked and destemmed before fermenting naturally for more than one to two weeks on the skins. There are seven to eight pump-overs in the first few days, and the wine is both fermented and aged in stainless steel; the wine spends a total of four months on the skins. A minimal amount of sulfur is added at bottling.

Vino da Tavola, ‘Dinavolo’
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25% Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, 25% Marsanne, 25% Ortugo, and 25% yet-unknown varietal; This blend comes from 28 year old vines grown on the highest portion of Giulio’s sloping, calcareous vineyards. All destemmed fruit first goes into a steel tank and is left to ferment for one to three weeks on the skins. There are seven to eight pump-overs per day to agitate, and only natural yeast is used. The wine is then transferred to older oak barrels for three months to age. In total, about four months are spent on the skins, with minimal amounts of sulfur added at bottling.